Welsh Dee Grayling fishing in Sleet & Snow

Just as the river level was starting to drop off nicely, heavy rain at the start of the week pushed it above 1.2m (Manley Hall) again. As the week progressed a cold dry spell helped the river level to fall to just above 1m by Thursday morning; the only day I was able to go fishing this week. Initially, my plan for the day was to fish the Broken Bridge pool but when I pulled down the lane there were a couple of anglers heading back to their car and few more anglers still fishing. They were practicing for this weekend’s Hanak European Grayling Festival. Therefore, I decided to try another spot, Duncan’s Pool, which is another good place to fish in high water.

After parking by near Llantysilio church, I walked up river passed the glide above Horseshoe Falls, where the water was moving quite fast, to Duncan’s Pool. At Duncan’s  the water was also moving quickly through the pool but there was a 3m zone of steadier flow on the left bank, starting just opposite the 2nd rock outcrop on the far bank, which looked like an ideal grayling spot.

I had not seen any fish rising during my walk up river, therefore I set up my rod to fish a team of Czech nymphs (point: size 10, copper back caddis grub with a 4mm black tungsten bead (TB); middle dropper: size 16, gold shell back Hare’s ear with a 2mm pink TB; top dropper: size 18, Pheasant Tail nymph).

While sticking close to the bank, I started fishing through this zone with the nymphs. After a few casts my line stopped and I tighten into my first grayling (15cm) of the day, which had taken the Hare’s Ear. This was followed, a few casts later, by another similar size grayling and brown trout on the Hare’s Ear.

A little further down the run the line stopped and I tightened into a good fish, which made a B-line for main flow stripping line from the reel. While trying to get things under control the fish threw the hook. Shortly afterwards it started sleet and working down to the end of the run didn’t produce anything else.

At this point I was feeling cold, dejected and on the verge of calling it a day. However, I decided to fish through the pool again with a change of flies. The size 18 PTN on the top dropper didn’t seem to be working because it was either fishing too high in the water and/or too small.  Therefore, I moved the size 16 pink TB Hare’s Ear to the top dropper and added a size 14, pink squirmy worm with a 3mm tungsten bead to the middle dropper; this would take the nymphs closer to the river bed and add additional temptation in the form of the squirmy!

This change seemed to work because after a few casts at the top of the run I quickly caught a slightly larger grayling (20cm) on the squirmy and then another on the Hare’s Ear. Things were starting to look up because working my way down the pool yielded  3 more similar size grayling, before bending into a larger fish that took a few metres of line. After a short struggle a grayling (ca. 34cm) that had taken the Hare’s Ear, was safely landed, photographed and returned.

This renewed enthusiasm helped me push on in spite of the penetrating cold and as I worked slowly down I caught another 3 smaller grayling. As the water deepened, I caught 2 larger grayling (ca 35 & 32cm) on the Hare’s Ear and squirmy.

Continuing down to the end of the run yielded 3 more grayling on the Hare’s Ear. It was now approaching 3pm and I had started to lose the feeling in my “frozen” right hand. Therefore, very pleased with my tally of 14 grayling and one brown trout I called it a day and went back to the car for a hot drink and the drive home with the heater on maximum.

Reflecting on the day it was clear that if things are slow, change your approach; changing the nymphs improved my fortunes for the day. It was also surprising to note that I didn’t catch anything on the point fly, maybe I should have changed that to a smaller, brighter pattern as well?

I was unable to watch the anglers fishing in the Hanak European Grayling Festival but from the reports on Facebook they had a great competition with 1672 fish being caught over the weekend; truly amazing grayling fishing on the Welsh Dee.

If anyone else would like to contribute to future weekly reviews on how the Welsh Dee is fishing, please send me a quick note to andrewoverend1@gmail.com with any photos by Sunday of each week and if appropriate I will add it to the weekly review. In addition, if you are planning to fish the Llangollen-Maelor Angling beats and you would like any help just drop me email and I will assist if I can.

Tight line until next time, Andrew (3/12/17)

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